Monday, April 9, 2012

Motivation Monday: The Magic of Mantras

Your body can be in peak condition for a race, but if your head isn't in the game it can have a detrimental effect on how you do.  A running mantra can help get your head back in the game and push through that wall during a race. 

According to this article  the ideal running mantra is "One that's short, positive, instructive, and full of action words." They also recommend having several different mantras ready.

I used several during my half marathon last fall that I set a 4 minute PR at. 

In the beginning I was all about "Run your own race"  This was to prevent me from going out too fast and trying to keep up with all the people who did start out too fast.  I also used "I will be seeing you later" at the beginning.  and a lot of those people I did see later when I passed them.

The last 10k is started using some different ones including "Enjoy being fast" and "This is what you are here for, this is what you trained for.  You are ready for this. You are trained for this" Okay the second one isn't very short, but it is very motivational for me. My pace for the last four miles was 7:11 verses the 7:25ish I ran the first half of the race.  I was really in "the zone" and felt so good mentally and physically.

There are some other really good mantras out there like
Chicago Runner Girls "Ride the edge"
and  Mile Posts "Dream Big" and how can you not love Saucony's "Find your strong" campaign.
If you listen to Marathon Training Academy podcasts the you have heard "Release the kraken".  

It is important to dig out these mantras when you get a stitch in your side, feel like puking etc so that instead of focusing on the pain and letting it drag you down, you distract yourself and push on. Mantras help divert the mind from its dark thought and transcend the pain.

Tips for making a good mantra.

Stay positive! Remember you want to divert your mind from the pain, not focus on it. "This is my day"
Use energetic words.  "Go for it" "Run strong"
Keep it short.  You don't want to be struggling to remember your mantra, it should flow easily. 
Make it instructive.  Tell yourself what to do.  Remind yourself how you should be feeling.  "Be relaxed" "Dream Big"

or you can use this chart to help make a chant to pull you through on your run.


such as
 Be strong, embrace power.
Stride fierce, be bold.

The biggest key to a running mantra is finding one that works for you.  If it doesn't resonate with you it won't be as effective.  I like to try new ones out when I am doing a hard workout.   Sometimes even the distraction of thinking up new ones is enough to help pull me through the workout.

Tell me some of your favorite mantras.


  1. I'm loving Saucony's Find Your Strong campaign! This year it has been "Finish what you started" and "You have this!" I often have to remind myself too to run my race! I'm such a offender of going out too fast because of the crowd!

  2. When I hit that painful part of a long race like a marathon, I think to myself "The faster I run, the faster I'm done!" and it helps me push through when I want to slow down or walk.

  3. I like the mantra. I tend to go with 'Be Fearless'.

  4. Strong definitely resonates with me, but I also found that I start laughing when I think things like women with six pack abs would keep pushing and it does make me push.

  5. Loved the chart! Yesterday on my run I kept repeating to myself (out loud) "I got this", "I can do this", "I am strong", "I am confident". My hubby who was riding his bike along side me probably thought I was nuts! I also think that he was a little impressed since he has never rode his bike with me on a long training run. He even offered little words of encouragement, but after he told me I was almost there with less than 2 miles left a gazillion times I politely told him to shut up. :-)

  6. Love all of these!

    My mantras are:

    Remember how it felt {like when you couldnt run}

    Pain is nothing {compared to what it feels like to give in}

    5 minutes. {you can do anything for 5 minutes}

  7. I love the idea of a mantra, but find it difficult to actually put it into practice. I guess I need to practice more? Mine tend to be song lyrics.

  8. I read that article in Runner's World and loved it. Someone was yelling "Smooth and steady" at a recent marathon and I've been repeating it to myself a lot lately.

  9. I love my mantras but they usually have at least one curse word in them. Bad yes, but it fires me up! Must have been all that time I spent in the military!

  10. Yes! Laughing at Christi. ;) I use Run Your Own Race, Find your strong, you've trained for this, one foot in front of the other...focus on the NOW.

  11. Love this post Christy! As I prepare for Boston I am definitely working on the mental aspect of what the day will bring. Marathons are very very mental and emotional for me. My favorite Mantra is "smooth, strong, fast" and "relax and flow".

  12. I generally don't do mantras, unless you count "don't walk." I feel like, even if I am the one making it up for myself, that they feel cliche and lame, but that's probably because I'm a giant cynic.

  13. i know I don't have the same mantra that I use every race, but ones that seems to be beneficial in the past was
    "You are stronger than you give youself credit for"
    "This is what you've trained for"
    "Think how awesome it will be when you're done to know you gave it your all"

  14. I didn't plan them (and to an outsider they might not sound that positive), but for the half-marathon (which I wasn't very well prepared for) I used:
    "slow down so you can make it to the end"
    "just keep running, it doesn't matter how slow"
    "I'm going to make it!"
    The slowing down business was because whenever there was music or cheering I sped up!

    I will try to develop more positive ones! :)

  15. I love that chart! My mantras change all the time, whatever comes into my head, usually something like "you've got this" or "push through, run hard" and I agree, the mental game is so much a part of the run!

  16. During my Rehoboth Marathon, I had two things written on my hand:

    You can do this
    How badly do you want this?

    It really did help me focus!

  17. LOVE MANTRAS!!! and they really do help me so much! my favorite is "I can do Hard things!"

  18. when I first started running I used a mantra all the time to push through - I probably need to do it again.

  19. I've used the one "Don't give in" lately to keep myself from stopping to walk or slow down if I'm feeling a little tired. Usually helps me push through and it feels great at the end!!

  20. thank you for this! so far I've got
    dorothy's "I RUN THIS BODY"!
    "15wks of training adds up to THIS day!"
    "You have 3 hrs to give it ALL you've got!"
    "Be fierce!"
    "Run strong!"
    "fight for what you want!"
    "You're not a quitter!"
    "you're determined, you're strong, you're a fighter"

  21. Such a good post. I haven't really used a mantra in a race but I am thinking I will for my marathon at the end of the year. On my fridge I have written I AM FAST I AM STRONG I AM HEALTHY. It's kind of my positive thinking for life.

  22. I just had a post about my favorite mantras
    maybe it's because I have headaches when I run - but mine were much less optimistic
    like "I've felt worse (and lived)"
    and "the only way out is through"

    I love all of these though, maybe its time to get more positively motivated


Because I love hearing from you all!